Online investment pays off

About the organisation

Lloyds TSB Group is one of the UK’s leading financial organisations. Its UK retail banking arm has 2,200 branches and more than a million online customers. It has operations in 27 countries, and employs about 70,000 people worldwide.

The aim

To implement effective online and paper-based numerical reasoning tests to help sift through the high volume of applications for its graduate programme. Between 2003 and 2004, it received more than 3,800 applications, of which 102 joined as management trainees on the bank’s two-year graduate programme.

“We’re looking for high academic achievers with energy, initiative and strong interpersonal, problem-solving and teamwork skills,” says Sally Cox, who was HR manager for Lloyds TSB graduate recruitment and selection, and is now HR manager for its Head Start school-leaver programme. “These are the people who will lead our business in the future.”

System supplier

PSL was formed in 1989 as a developer and publisher of psychometric tests. Its assessment products fall into two categories: general purpose personality questionnaires and ability and skills tests, and tests developed for specific job roles.

The approach

PSL recommended two tests that would meet the bank’s needs. The online psychometric Infinity Series Numerical Reasoning Test gives candidates a random sample of questions. This means that no two people receive the same test, which minimises the risk of candidates preparing in advance. The 35-minute, paper-based Advance Series Numerical Reasoning Test is then used to verify the online test score.

The solution

The 20-minute online test forms the second stage in the sifting process after candidates have filled out an online application form (all apply via a dedicated website). Their score is automatically fed back to the recruitment management system. Lloyds TSB then sifts through the applicants based on their scores, and holds telephone interviews with those selected for the final assessment centre.

Last year, around 600 candidates made it through to this final stage, where they are interviewed, and participate in case study presentations, group exercises and role-plays, and also complete the 35-minute paper-based test.

“Now the online and paper-based tests have the same level of difficulty, and the scores we get as a result are much more comparable,” says Cox. “Graduates have commented on [the online test’s] ease of use, its relevance, and that it is great being able to do it in their own time and at home or at university.”

The bottom line

The psychometric tests are already proving their worth, and helping Lloyds TSB to select high-calibre talent.

“We do our own analysis of those candidates we offer [places] and those we reject to ensure the test is helping us to find the calibre we are looking for,” says Cox.

“Last year on the whole, the candidates we offered jobs to scored the highest in the test – so it was a good predictor of success at the assessment centre.

“We haven’t decided on our process for 2006 yet, but are looking at maybe introducing some more online exercises.”

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